In mid-May, I asked Leisure World residents how we could improve coverage of their community in the Sun. Most of the replies were supportive and helpful. In time, I hope to build on the response. Meanwhile, it occurs to me to ask the rest of Seal Beach the same question.

Bearing in mind that we can’t be everywhere—I’ve tried and it isn’t possible—what stories do you folks see as on-going issues in College Park East, College Park West, the Hill and Old Town Seal Beach? (And, yes, Rossmoor and their incorporated neighbors in Los Alamitos.)

On Tuesday, June 14, two Southern California daily newspapers reported on the Seal Beach Leisure World Tax delinquency and the outrage the penalty for that delinquency has stirred up in the retirement community.

Ahem. The Seal Beach Sun broke that story in our Thursday, May 19 issue.

Listen, daily newspapers, broadcast news organizations and Web sites can and sometimes do scoop us–so often that no one in his right mind really worries about being scooped. That said, it is nice every now and then to be a little ahead of the curb.

I really shouldn’t crow. By the time you’ve finished reading this blog, an equally or more important story will have come up. News, like glory, is fleeting.

The editor of the Sun said farewell to our retiring Police Chief Jeff Kirkpatrick with more eloquence than I ever could in the Thursday, June 9 edition. However, I had a slightly different relationship with Chief Kirkpatrick’s department than the editor did. Even before I was made an assistant editor and full time employee of the Sun, I wrote the Crime Log. That meant weekly dealings with three law enforcement agencies: Los Alamitos PD, OC Sheriff’s Department and Seal Beach PD. It has been  a positive experience, all in all.

Los Al PD, the OC Sheriff’s Department and Seal Beach are unique entities. All three are grand organizations, staffed by grand people. If there are less than ideal individuals in any of these institutions, I have not encountered them in six years.

That said, I must confess that the Seal Beach Police Department is my favorite of the three–not just because I live in Seal Beach (near the Rossmoor and Los Alamitos borders), but because individuals within these agencies have sometimes taken extra steps to help me do my job. They could have simply said they didn’t have the time. They obviously have more important things to do.  I remember commenting several years ago that I didn’t have a current copy of the California Penal Code. The public information officer at the time, then sergeant (now Lieutenant) Bob Mullins provided me with a copy. The current PIO, Sgt. Steve Bowles, has phoned or e-mailed me on weekends and on his days off in response to my questions. Capt. Tim Olson, Kirkpatrick’s second in command, was the first police PIO I worked with upon returning to journalism after a lengthy absence from the news business. It must have been like working with a rookie reporter for Capt. Olson. He graciously put up with me.

That’s professionalism and class, two things all too seldom seen in either the public or private sector these days. Those three men are but a reflection of the chief they served.

I seldom had direct dealings with Chief Kirkpatrick, but I could tell he cared for his people and the civilian community. On a couple of rare occasions, when no one else was able to help me, he took the extra step of helping me. Again, he had more important things to do.

When you don’t know a man well, the best way to judge him is either by looking at his family or his business. Well, I’ve had a chance to watch his business for a few years and can only say his successor will have a tough act to follow.

Thanks, chief. It was always a pleasure—and an honor.

Hawthorne Police Officer Andrew Garton, 44, died in the line of duty in a traffic accident on Thursday, May 26, while he was among the officers escorting a Manhattan Beach officer’s funeral procession. He lived with his family in Rossmoor

The Hawthorne Police Officers Association has established a trust fund for Officer Garton’s family.
Donations may be made at the following locations:
• Western Federal Credit Union
14500 South Aviation Blvd.
Hawthorne, CA 90250
• Hawthorne Police Department
12501 S. Hawthorne Blvd.
Hawthorne, CA 90250
For more information, call Western Federal Credit Union at (877) 254-9328 or the Hawthorne Police Department at (310) 349-2835.
Checks should be made out to:
Officer Andrew Garton’s Family c/o HPOA. Write account Number 654404-006 on the check.